Snapshots, Waiting Ward

Staring at the sharp knives

in the kitchen drawer

you wonder if they

could be your antidote for grey.

But then I’m there: a midnight

shoulder of persistent green

and you’re not so opaque just yet

though you’d like to turn my eyes

to the soft call of dependable women.

As you syncopate and clench,

buckled in the passenger’s seat

there’s no time for a triple-‘0’

singsong so I run the traffic lights

and their conspiring red.

At Emergency, quicksand

filling your throat,

you gasp I’m dying

to which Reception coos

we all have to one day, dearie

die, that is

then to the waiting room

where, at the latch,

you recoil please

don’t make me go through this


an anorexic woman

mapped with scabs and bruises

cringes in one corner

asks her cup of tea

for a blood-free blanket

as you pummel my chest

then batter your head

on walls on glass it’s not

working as doctors in slowmotion

at their desks softly

scribbling, or chatting up

a cute behind it’s not

(Doctors know that to hear

one scream out of queue

can turn submission into chaos

then whose wings will rescue them

from the king tide

of paperwork?)

how much longer I ask a nurse

she shrugs with heart attacks

and knife wounds and ODs

but if only a doctor could… I plead

you’re next to be seen she lies

Two hours later a perfectly centred

pill arrives on a stainless steel plate

while somewhere else a psych team,

girded with tim-tams, rinses mugs,

saddles up to rein in their shift with

how can we be of help